Nirvana’s Nevermind, which is now 25 years old, didn’t kick off the “grunge” movement and lead singer Kurt Cobain’s suicide didn’t kill grunge either. Embers burned long after that particular fire went out and there was smoke long before anyone outside of Seattle saw a thing. Like Steve Jobs, the father of the smartphone and the digital music player who didn’t technically invent either of those things, Cobain is viewed as a pioneer instead of as a popularizer. That label-switch shouldn’t take too much away from Cobain (whose off-the-charts talent and rapid success helped create daylight for other Seattle bands to run toward — with good and bad returns), but it should remind people that there was life before “Smells Like Teen Spirit” for the Seattle sound.
Also, though it effectively conveys that you’re talking about the cultural moment that occurred in the Seattle indie music scene in the ’80s and early ’90s, grunge is kind of a bullsh*t label that gets applied broadly to any band that came out of the Pacific Northwest with a record deal in the early 1990s. Metal, punk, rock, and alternative bands all seem to get slapped with that label even if Nirvana’s success tilted people’s view toward thinking that grunge was shorthand for, “Sounds like Nirvana.” But of course, so many bands in Seattle didn’t.
While both Mother Love Bone and Nirvana shared a vague geographic connection, and operated in the same space for an ever so brief moment as the Seattle scene swelled and prepared to burst, the two bands were nothing alike. Both Cobain and Mother Love Bone lead singer Andy Wood had an affinity for Kiss while growing up, but it was Wood who stood out from the pack and fully embraced that influence.
Mentioned in the same breath as Freddie Mercury, David Lee Roth, and Gary Numan by peers, Wood was poised to ride the imminent release of Mother Love Bone’s debut LP, Apple, to become the Seattle sound’s first breakout star. He craved that kind of success and it seemed as though it was his destiny, but instead, he tragically passed away on March 19, 1990 following a heroin overdose. Wood was just 24 years old. His death changed everything years before it allegedly got its start.
“Music Sets The Sick Ones Free”
While visions of swaying depressives in their grunge uniforms — flannel, chunky boots, unwashed hair — are tied in memory to the ’90s, the true roots of the Seattle sound movement reach down into the mid-’80s club scene. With bands like the Melvins (whose style provided an early road map for Nirvana), The U-Men, Green River (featuring future Mother Love Bone bassist Jeff Ament and guitar player Stone Gossard), and Soundgarden ruling the stage, these clubs existed as Petri dishes for punk and metal fans to gather and in some cases, make the short trip from the crowd to the stage.
Soundgarden guitarist Kim Thayil described the scene in Kim Neely’s book, Five Against One:
“There was a certain trippy specialness, you know? You’d go check out all of your friends, the guys in Green River and Skin Yard and the Melvins, and it was just sort of like, ‘Wow this is cool.'”
It wasn’t always harmonious, though. In Greg Prato’s “Grunge Is Dead,” Michelle Ahern-Crane details a concert at Gorilla Garden where punk rockers and rockers tussled and Wood was picked “up by his white fur coat” and tossed against a fence. Despite the occasional hint of a division between the two factions, the goal for many was the same: Experiment and create music.
Kevin Wood, Andy Wood’s brother and eventual bandmate with seminal scene band, Malfunkshun, spoke about the early days of the scene to Legendary Rock Interviews:
“Sometimes there would be experiments. I remember a band called Culprit played with a band that featured some guys from The Fartz, I don’t think they were The Fartz at that time but it was Blaine Cook and Paul Solger. Anyway, they were like the top punk band and Culprit was the top metal band and they had some kind of show at a skating rink in Bellevue and it was like a battle between the punk and metal guys. Everyone got along and all but it was just kind of an experiment to see what would happen when you got the two worlds together like that.”
Another goal was, doubtlessly, to find a bigger audience, even if it wasn’t foremost on everyone’s mind.
Sub Pop Records co-founders Bruce Pavitt and Jonathan Poneman get a lot of deserved praise for having the foresight to sign Soundgarden and Nirvana in the late ’80s, hastening their eventual jump to major labels and a bigger audience, but Chris Hanzsek was the first one to try and trap the Seattle sound in a bottle for mass distribution. The producer and engineer on Green River’s 1985 album, Come on Down (the first “grunge” record), Hanzsek later started C/Z Records with Tina Casale and recruited Green River, the Melvins, Soundgarden, U-Men, Skin Yard, and Malfunkshun to participate in the Deep Six compilation album, which was released in March of 1986.
According to Kevin Wood, inclusion on Deep Six made an impact with the band: “I think we thought our ticket was punched after Deep Six.” Unfortunately, the album’s sales were middling, but the listening party and debut served as an “epiphany” for those engaged in the scene at the time, according to Spin.
Sub Pop co-founder Bruce Pavitt in Jacob McMurray’s Taking Punk to the Masses:
“I had been observing all these different regional scenes around the country and I finally got to a point where I was like, ‘Wow. There’s something interesting going on in the city. […] The Deep Six compilation came out on C/Z and documented a lot of that. And it was a very distinctive sound, so I started checking out more of these shows.”
Deep Six would be closely followed by Sub Pop’s Sub Pop 100 (which was released in July of ’86 and also featured the U-Men as well as Sonic Youth and Shonen Knife), but while it seemed like the whiff of success was starting to hit the air, no one was making money, creating the absence of a hierarchy that kept everyone hungry.
In fact, even when they played shows, Malfunkshun made almost no money. “[The band] hardly ever got paid at all,” Kevin Wood told Uproxx Music. “Really, it was pretty pathetic for all of the bands at that time. We played gigs with all of them and it was small potatoes. I think Andy finally quit his day job about a year into Mother Love Bone. I’m getting paid a hell of a lot more now gigging Malfunkshun than we ever did in the ’80s.”
Despite the absence of a material reward, Andy Wood still gravitated to the stage, even playing solo-shows that were filled with piano ballads that recalled Elton John when he wasn’t busy playing with Malfunkshun. Young and exuberant, what did money matter to a guy who was living his dream?
“Let’s Fall In Love With Music”
A connoisseur with eclectic and advanced tastes at an early age, Wood’s earliest fixations were with the aforementioned Kiss and Elton John, as well as Queen, and harder sounds. Dave Rees, who played bass with Malfunkshun for one show and grew up with Wood, relayed a story to Prato about the time Wood brought over a copy of Paranoid by Black Sabbath to play at his house. Wood was in the fourth grade at the time. Wood’s nearly innate connection to music didn’t automatically spawn a rockstar dream, though.
His first ambition was to be a disc jockey. In the sixth grade, he got the chance to get an early glimpse of that life by hosting a local radio show after winning a contest. Naturally, he played Kiss and Alice Cooper, but according to Rees’ story in Grunge Is Dead, Wood was put off by the lack of “feedback from the audience” and declared that he was setting his sights on rock stardom instead.
At 14, in 1980 on Easter Sunday at their home on Bainbridge Island, Kevin and Andy Wood (but not brother Brian Wood) decided to “blow off Easter lunch at Grandma’s” to form a band and record a demo tape. Malfunkshun started out as a teenage dream that initially included Rees and drummer Dave Hunt before they almost immediately left and Regan Hagar (formerly of Maggot Brain) joined up as the band’s permanent drummer. Despite Andy’s youth, there was nothing precocious about his pursuit. After a short time, Malfunkshun was playing local shows at 18 and under clubs and making a name for themselves for their sound and their look.
“I think the image helped us. We were accepted in the scene because we were different. It was a pretty open minded bunch of people who were involved in the early ’80s rock scene. Andy was really the only glam aspect of the band. I was more Heavy Rock in my look, and really, so was Regan. The glam image was all about being like Paul Stanley or even David Lee Roth for him.” said Kevin Wood, adding, “Andy and I were into the theatrical aspect of the show. He was the charismatic pretty boy crazy man and I was more the dark guitar slinger like Page, Blackmore, or KK Downing.”
As Landrew the Love Child, Wood built on his (early) embrace of androgyny by rocking wild costumes that were designed by his eventual fiance, Xana La Fuente, accessories like feather boas, wild sunglasses, and a top hat along with pancake face makeup to perfect his look. Andy clearly wanted to keep things loose and fun on stage. It was “Love Rock,” an inclusive marriage between love and rock and roll, after all, but Malfunkshun’s sound, however, wasn’t as obviously influenced by glam.
You can hear Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath’s spirit in the heavy and dirty “With Yo’ Heart (Not Yo’ Hands)” which was recorded in 1985 for the Deep Six compilation, but not so much T. Rex or any other typical glam rocker. If you listen to 1995’s Return to Olympus, which was compiled using demos recorded in 1986 and 1987, however, there’s a bit more diversity of style and influence. Malfunkshun was hard to hang a label on, but the talent was evident.
“We were putting together a rock experience that we hoped would be inventive enough to create a new thing. Love Rock… We were heavy and loud, though, and I think we paved the way for other bands to come up and try something out of the box,” said Kevin Wood.
“If you saw Mother Love Bone, you were rocking out and laughing your ass off at the same time,” said Xana La Fuente in Grunge Is Dead.
While Andy Wood’s jokey stage persona and rock star swagger may have felt out of place considering the kind of music Malfunkshun was pumping out and the venues they were playing, it clearly had a hand in endearing Malfunkshun to others within the scene.
Pearl Jam guitar player Mike McCready in the Pearl Jam 20 documentary.
“He’d go to the Central Tavern when there were like 25 people there and play it like it was a coliseum. He’d be like, ‘To all you people in the back!’ and [the only person back there] was the guy at the door.”
“He was a rock star; he knew it,” said Soundgarden lead singer and Andy’s eventual roommate, Chris Cornell in the same documentary, adding, “something about that made us all believe that we were, too.”
Wood and Cornell’s friendship clearly had a hand in pushing both artists to a better place creatively. “It was a really interesting time.” said Cornell to Juice Magazine. “He was starting to come into his own as a songwriter and so was I.”
According to Cornell’s interview with Scot Barbour for the Malfunkshun documentary, for every two songs he would write, Wood could create 10. And he never edited himself.
While sharing a house with Cornell had a positive effect on Wood’s creative life, the intent had been to help him get clear of his demons following a stint in rehab. Cornell, bandmates reasoned, would be good for Wood because he had a reputation for being clean, but that reputation helped push Wood to hide his drug use from his friend.
Chris Cornell in the Malfunkshun documentary:
“The only times that he brought any of that up around me was when he was talking to someone else and I was in the room and he seemed uncomfortable to even bring up around me. I think a lot of it had to do with… he kind of had this Dad thing with me because he thought I was really together, for some reason. Because I always had a job and I didn’t have any drug problems, really.”
While Wood dealt with his drug use and seemingly marveled at Cornell’s ability to function while they lived together (before he eventually left and moved in with Xana La Fuente), the friendship (which remained strong until Wood’s death) also allowed Andy the chance to have a front row seat for Cornell and Soundgarden’s ascension in the late ’80s.
Unlike Malfunkshun, who had never been able to catch Sub Pop’s eye, Soundgarden had released two EPs (Screaming Life and Fopp) and appeared on the Sub-Pop 200 compilation album for the indie label. This before releasing an LP (Ultramega OK) with SST in the fall of 1988.
“Everybody was excited about Soundgarden and was hoping for the same recognition,” said Kevin Wood.
Regan Hagar in Grunge Is Dead:
“We always felt like we were influencing everybody and we weren’t getting what we deserved. For instance, we’d been a band for three or four years, and out comes Green River, and they were immediately drawing tons of people to their shows. They were doing really well — nothing ever went wrong for those guys. They were good friends of ours but we were always confused how we got missed.”
Clearly, a hierarchy was forming and Soundgarden was at the top of it with record labels from across the country courting the band that would become the Seattle sound’s first major label catch. Andy Wood was going to become the second, but it wasn’t going to be beside Kevin Wood and Regan Hagar.
“Dreams Like This Must Die”
The Seattle scene in the ’80s was positively incestuous with people jumping from band to band, but there is no more impressive wellspring of talent than Green River. Formed in 1984, Green River had a comparatively over-stuffed discography for the time, dropping Come on Down in 1985, Dry as a Bone in 1987 with the help of producer Jack Endino (from Skin Yard, whose drummer, Matt Cameron, eventually wound up joining Soundgarden and Pearl Jam), and Rehab Doll in 1988.
Despite the band’s success, though, factions within Green River had vastly different visions of what the band could and should become. This was never more clear than after Green River played a show on the same bill as Jane’s Addiction in Los Angeles. Inspired, bass player Jeff Ament and guitar player Stone Gossard soon broke away in a move that did not shatter lead singer Mark Arm’s heart. “I felt relief. I was tired of fighting to be heard,” said Arm in Mark Yarm’s, Everybody Loves Our Town.
Arm would go on to create Mudhoney (a hugely influential Seattle sound band that is still going strong with its indie credibility firmly intact) alongside Steve Turner, Green River’s original guitar player. At its inception, Mudhoney also included Matt Lukin (formerly of the Melvins) on bass and Dan Peters (who played drums on the Nirvana single, “Sliver”) on drums.
The other half of Green River’s broken alliance (excluding drummer Alex Vincent, who went to live in Japan), Ament, Gossard, and guitar player Bruce Fairweather had, by this point, been playing in a cover band called Lordz of the Wasteland with Andy Wood and Malfunkshun drummer Regan Hagar as a side project. Making the merger between the Green River expatriates and Wood (with Hagar being replaced by Greg Gilmore after a fallout with Ament) made sense, especially with Gossard and Ament’s skill, Wood’s powerful voice and stage persona, and their shared big ambitions, but it didn’t make Wood’s decision to push Malfunkshun to the back burner any easier.
“I think forming Mother Love Bone was more Jeff and Stone than Andy,” Kevin Wood recalled. “They pulled him into their band and allowed him to add to what they were forming. Andy was already friends with both of them, but he didn’t seem to be in control of anything as far as making anything happen. I wanted Stone and Jeff in Malfunkshun, but I really had no say in the matter after Mother Love Bone was formed and I lost my frontman to what was left of Green River.”
Malfunkshun never actually came to a total stop (even now, Kevin Wood continues to keep the band alive with a rotating lineup). There was never a big dramatic fight over the direction of the band like Green River endured, just a slow pause followed by the news that Andy had joined a new band. Though, at the time, he sought to make it crystal clear that the start of Mother Love Bone didn’t mean that it was the end of Malfunkshun, going so far as to release a hand-written statement promising a return and categorizing Mother Love Bone as a side project. Sadly, Wood never got the chance to bring Malfunkshun back, but in his final interview, he seemed confident that he and Kevin would work together on a new project soon.
You can sense Wood, Ament, and Gossard’s ambition for more when you listen to Mother Love Bone in a way that you never could with Malfunkshun or many of the other raw Seattle sound bands that had come together with a less clear goal in mind. It feels cleaner and more focused, musically. Mother Love Bone had moments where they recalled Guns N’ Roses, but Andy’s unique voice and lyrics made it clear that this was no cover band and that they were capable of being their own thing. Besides, after eight years of playing for nearly nothing with Malfunkshun and Gossard, Ament, and Fairweather’s experiences with crippling album delays while with Green River, who could really blame any of them for trying to steer their new project toward a little more financial certainty and support? Clearly, the frustration was mounting.
“I guess if not wanting to work in a restaurant for the rest of my life made me a careerist, then that was probably true,” said Ament in Everybody Hates Our Town when talking about his exit from Green River and accusations that he was being “careerist.”
With a blend of the exotic (Wood and the alluring and burgeoning Seattle sound) and proven (that familiar Guns N’ Roses vibe), it didn’t take long for record companies to seek out Andy Wood and Mother Love Bone, sensing the start of a gold rush. By 1990, Mother Love Bone, Soundgarden, The Screaming Trees, Nirvana, and Alice in Chains had all signed with big labels. The mom and pop aesthetic of the Seattle sound was being blown to smithereens. Geffen, who later inked Nirvana and released Nevermind in 1991, dropped $5,000 for Mother Love Bone to record a demo and approximately 15 labels went north dangling multi-album deals.
According to Rolling Stone, those deals also came with a serious, life-changing dollar amount attached, ranging from $150,000 to $400,000. Business was open in Seattle and Mother Love Bone’s members were set to take the next step toward their dream, signing a seven-album deal with Polygram and beginning work on their debut LP, Apple, with producer Terry Tate, who had produced Soundgarden’s major label debut for A&M.
Despite Soundgarden’s local-band-makes-good story, though, it’s important to remember that there was a local backlash against the band for signing with A&M and making Louder Than Love — a preview for what was to come when “grunge” started to buckle under the burden of being a world denting cultural trend. Supposedly, Soundgarden had sold out because, as is the case with all tightly knit underground scenes, you’re only allowed to get successful within those confines and you’re never allowed to chase something bigger or more lucrative. A silly argument that probably wouldn’t have impacted Mother Love Bone (which, as a band, didn’t have roots in the scene like Soundgarden did), though it’s always possible that Malfunkshun and Green River fans could have turned their noses up at Apple upon its release.
At the time of their signing, though, it’s doubtful that anyone in Mother Love Bone cared. They were with a big damn label, working on releasing an EP (Shine) in an effort to build buzz for Apple, and about to go on tour with Dogs D’Amour. The buzz was palpable, Andy Wood was, at long last, about to be heard in a big way, adding an interesting wrinkle to the composition of what the Seattle sound was supposed to sound like. But while that future success seemed like an unmissable target, all was not well.
For one thing, despite his public praise of Mother Love Bone, Wood’s bandmates sensed a disconnect.
“He had fantasies and as the rock thing was being fulfilled in Mother Love Bone, he was not really into it. I think the reality of being in a band and dealing with a record label was not what he thought it would be,” said Greg Gilmore in the Malfunkshun documentary. “It was a difficult band for him to be in, I think it was a difficult band for all of us to be in,” said Gossard in the same doc, recalling tension and competition. Gossard would later add that, while he thought that there were happy times with the band, musically, he felt that Wood had “a lot more musical information to give and this really wasn’t gonna be the band.”
It’s impossible to know if Andy was truly dissatisfied and, perhaps, itching for a return to the kind of music he had made beside Kevin Wood and Regan Hagar with Malfunkshun — perhaps torn by a battle between his musical tastes and his desire to play to the biggest crowds. Was Mother Love Bone a stepping stone or a legitimate shot at creating something tangible and everlasting? One of many unanswered questions.
“It’s Unkind And Leaves Me Alone”
In the Malfunkshun documentary, a hand-written drug log is shown detailing a track record of substance abuse that goes back to childhood. Simply put, there’s hardly a drug Andy Wood didn’t try, and with a previous overdose, blackouts, an admission that rehab wasn’t working, and the words, “one of two roads” placed next to 1990, it’s not hard to assume that Andy was on a dark road. Still, despite a recent trip to rehab, his death from a heroin overdose just two weeks prior to the release of Apple came as a shock within a community that had yet to sustain the many, many losses that would follow.
Opinions seem to be mixed on if Andy was an addict or a daytripper with bad luck, but it’s clear that Andy lived his life showing different sides of himself to different people. He was glam, he was hard rock, he had arena-rock ambitions, a true artist’s soul, and he lived life as a loud showman while being “afraid of being alive,” according to Cornell in Five Against One.
“He hated himself using,” said Andy’s fiance, Xana La Fuente, in Malfunkshun while detailing the hard time she had convincing people that Andy’s problem was serious. A point Greg Gilmore concedes with regret in the documentary.
Regan Hagar in an interview with Two Feet Thick:
“He went to rehab. Other people did. He was drinkin’ and smokin’ pot with us and stuff, and some cocaine and heroin. But like I said, everyone was doing it. Myself included. He was unlucky, he had basically stopped… He was going through a lot of hardship with Love Bone and his personal life, Xana, and chose to get high that day, and something happened. Whether it was the aneurysm, whether he hadn’t done it in months and it was too much… I mean, yeah, he got high. [But] to me he was never a junkie. So it was a total shocker.”
What’s clear, is that, no matter what the circumstances were that led to Andy’s death — a “bad batch,” a momentary slip after a long break, an aneurysm, or a possible allergic reaction to the meds that were slowly bringing him back from his overdose — this was a tragic loss for the Wood family, Xana, Andy’s friends, and the Seattle music community. One that they would all be permanently scarred by.
Chris Cornell from the Pearl Jam 20 documentary:
“Up to that point, I think life was really good for us as just a group of musicians in a scene making music. And the world was sort of our oyster and we had support and we supported each other. And he was kinda this beam of light sort of above it all and to see him hooked up to machines… that was, I think the death of the innocence of the scene.”
The deepest cut from loss comes from the absence of small moments that that person shared with those closest to them — laughs and looks and just being around. But in Andy’s case, there is also great tragedy and pain in knowing that light Cornell spoke about was extinguished before many had a chance to see it in full, but perhaps some comfort in knowing that many felt the resulting absence.
It’s been 26 years since Andy Wood’s death and it’s incredibly hard to surmise what would have happened to his career had he survived. Pushed back to July of 1990 following his death, Apple‘s middling sales performance certainly fails to match up with the buzz that the album had been getting and the reviews that followed the release. So that’s no help in determining if the band would have met Andy’s stated (in a radio interview) expectation and been the band of the ’90s.
Pearl Jam is certainly in the mix for that distinction and we know that they wouldn’t have formed, at least not when they formed, had Andy survived.
Launched by Jeff Ament and Stone Gossard (and Mike McCready) following the end of Mother Love Bone, Ament and Gossard sifted through tapes from Andy Wood soundalikes before finding a demo from Eddie Vedder which contained what Rolling Stone called, “a compelling three-act mini-opera, encompassing birth, betrayal, incest, murder and imprisonment.”
Jeff Ament in an interview with Rolling Stone:
“I listened to it and thought, ‘Man, that’s really good’ […] And then I listened to it a couple more times, and by the third time I was like, ‘This is the guy I think I’ve wanted to be in a band with my whole life.’ We had a little bit of a phone relationship in that we called each other every day and without really talking about the music on the tape, more about why we loved music and bands that we liked and books that we liked. He’d be like, ‘Oh, you make the posters for the band? I make the posters too!’ and I’d say, ‘Oh, you screen-print T-shirts? I screen-print T-shirts too!’ So it sort of felt like there was a brotherhood before we even met. And then to get the tape and hear that amazing voice… In some ways it felt like it was probably more representative of where I was coming from, more than even Mark [Arm, Green River and later Mudhoney frontman] or Andy [Wood], just personality-wise.”
With Vedder — another unique voice who could cut through labels and reach people all over the world — in place, Pearl Jam moved to a slightly more substantial sound than Mother Love Bone had, but Andy doubtlessly had the ability to do that.
As one of the biggest parts of the “grunge” machine, Pearl Jam (along with Nirvana and Soundgarden) carried the Seattle sound to its highest highs and eventual death by over-exposure. That end wasn’t the fault of these mega-famous bands, just a side effect of how they were sold and how people reacted to them — with envy and a strategic desire to do what they (and people like Andy Wood) could not, which is be devoid of originality.
It’s interesting to ponder how Andy Wood’s irreverent look and joyous disposition would have fared had it been in direct competition with Kurt Cobain’s unintentionally trend-setting ratty sweaters and his dance between annoyance and mopeyness. Would we live in a world where B-roll of mall kids in feather boas exists as an accompaniment for every story about “grunge?” Would it even be called that? Wood acknowledged that Mother Love Bone wasn’t really grunge, so maybe, if they were first on the scene with mainstream success, Wood and company would have been able to define the Seattle sound and the accompanying culture. In hindsight, however, it probably would have been best if one label hadn’t been applied to the whole thing in the first place. Maybe then there would have been more incentive for bands and other artists to resist the temptation to conform to that marketable concept.
Unfortunately, fashion designers settled on that Cobain look as the one that defined a scene and a moment (that had already begun to pass) and then manufactured that look for the masses. This while marketing executives reasoned that they could get a handle on the new big thing and use its stink to sell to young people who quickly picked up on the bullsh*t and rolled their eyes at those who were trying to pander to them. Including the record labels with their endless parade of Nirvana and Soundgarden sound-alikes.
Chris Cornell in an interview for the Malfunkshun documentary:
“What was happening then with commercial hard rock was it was eating itself. It was totally imploding. No one cared about songs. You just had to look a certain way. You had to sound a certain way. Songs were pretty much the last thing anybody worried about. And Mother Love Bone, they fit into this genre but they were real. You know? It was like a band stepping out of 1976. It was that genuine.”
That Nirvana became sacred following Cobain’s suicide and near-immediate canonization while Andy Wood and Mother Love Bone were pushed into the margins of history is not surprising when you consider the exposure gap. Everything is about timing, even death, apparently. It is, however, a bit surprising that Wood’s death seemingly failed to convey to many of his peers that they were human and that heroin might kill them or wreck their lives and careers too.
There are, simply, too many deaths to list, too many tribute songs and albums (including Temple of the Dog, which joined Cornell and the Pearl Jam crew for a remembrance of Andy that Xana La Fuente recalled was originally just a few songs Cornell had made just for her) to mention. “Would” by Alice in Chains is notably and sadly worth a mention, however, as it came from a band whose own frontman, Layne Staley, succumbed to drugs in 2002. He was 34 and weighed 86 pounds when they found his body two weeks after he had overdosed with a fresh load of heroin ready to roll.
Kurt Cobain and Andy Wood’s deaths didn’t kill “grunge,” heroin, the scourge of addiction, and the spotlight of quick fame and crazy demand turned a good scene poisonous. The record industry and the world took a beautiful coalition of friendship and sound and introduced it to an ambition above creative greatness and high above the innocent joy of playing in a rock and roll band with friends. It’s no one’s fault because it’s just what we do, but in truth, it doesn’t matter who killed “grunge,” all that matters is the amount of people it took with it and the kind of cynicism it bred within a place where there was none before.
Kurt Cobain was right, “with the lights out, it’s less dangerous.” We’ll miss the light of Andy Wood to this day, but at least we won’t forget his story — and what the Seattle sound could’ve been with just a little bit more Love Rock.
Update: Wood fans should know that a Mother Love Bone box set titled, Mother Love Bone: On Earth As It Is, is set for release in November featuring Shine, Apple, and 20 unreleased and rare tracks according to Consequence of Sound.
Jason Tabrys is the features editor for Uproxx. You can engage with him directly on Twitter.